Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands authorized an investigation Thursday into allegations of crimes against humanity related to the treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya minority.
The court said there's evidence to suggest "widespread and/or systemic acts of violence" may have been committed against the Rohingya based on ethnicity and/or religion.
A U.N. report in August 2018 suggested Rohingya frequently experience extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention; rape, sexual violence and sexual slavery and torture, among other forms of discrimination and persecution.
The stateless ethnic group live in Rakhine state in Myanmar, but persecution forced them to either move or flee to Bangladesh.
Myanmar is not a member state of the ICC, but Bangladesh is. Because persecution may have taken place on both sides of the border, the court said it has jurisdiction for an investigation.
"Noting the scale of the alleged crimes and the number of victims allegedly involved, the [pre-trial chamber] considered that the situation clearly reaches the gravity threshold," the ICC said.
"According to the supporting material, an estimated 600,000 to 1 million Rohingya were forcibly displaced from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh as a result of the alleged coercive acts. Noting the victims' views, the chamber agreed with the prosecutor that there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation into the situation would not be in the interests of justice."
The U.S. State Department sanctioned four Myanmar officials in July for what it described as "gross human rights violations" against Rohingya people. Some in the international community, including the United Nations, have accused the country of committing genocide against the ethnic group.
Over the past year, Myanmar began a repatriation program to return Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to their home state. The initial effort failed because many Rohingya, fearing violence, refused to return.